October 25, 2001

Ear to the Web

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Music on the Internet is a hot topic lately, as it has been for the past couple of years. But most of the coverage on Internet music tends to focus on MP3-sharing, and the various lawsuits that issue has prompted. The latest phenomenon in music technology, though, is far less controversial, and has therefore taken something of a second seat to Napster’s legal battles. Internet radio is a new trend spreading across the Internet, with new sites popping up all the time. College kids taking advantage of this trend can choose from a wealth of stations, offering broadcasts in all possible genres and styles. But with so many sites floating around out there, and so much coursework piling up on your desk, how are you to choose where to go for your listening needs? That, my friends, is where I come in.

So sit back, ready your browsing finger, and get ready to learn about the other Internet music scene.



AOL

If you don’t fear being labeled a corporate whore, AOL 7.0’s new Internet radio feature is a worthwhile place to start your listening journey. They offer a surprisingly diverse selection of stations, featuring everything from the latest chart-topping pop, to rock from all eras, to underground indie bands, to all styles of world music. The coolest feature is that a few stations are dedicated to individual artists (including Radiohead and Stone Temple Pilots), playing tunes by their influences and favorite artists. And with the player integrated directly into AOL, this service is probably the most convenient (at least for the corporate whores among us) — requiring no other applications to keep open. (www.aol.com)

Spinner

With 150 stations in every genre, Spinner.com is one of the most widely-used of the Internet radio stations. Once you download the free Spinner Plus player, you can choose from stations in the most specific subgenres, or simply listen to a plain old rock broadcast. All the stations play a mix of familiar artists, along with similar but lesser-known bands, making Spinner’s stations a good way to hear your favorite songs while being exposed to some new blood. (www.spinner.com)

Shoutcast

Have you ever listened to a radio station and thought that you could probably do just as well as the DJ in picking what songs to spin? Since you’re here in Ithaca, chances are good that you’ve done just that. Well, Shoutcast is one of the many online platforms for you to show off your DJ-ing skills. The Shoutcast program uses the Winamp MP3 player, in addition to the specialized Shoutcast server software, to allow users to broadcast whatever music they wish over the Internet. You can put together a playlist of your favorite songs — or even pre-record your own DJ-ing session — and send it out for people all over the world to share your taste in tunes.

Of course, if you don’t have what it takes to make it as a disc jockey, you can always just sit back and listen to what others have put together for you. Listening in is easy — just get the Winamp player (and what respectable college student doesn’t have that already anyway?) and go to the Shoutcast Web site to browse through the many audio streams available. And best of all, because the Shoutcast stations are all designed by regular people from all over the world, you’re likely to find greater variety than you will from the pre-packaged stations on other radio services. (www.shoutcast.com)

Dublab

This station, based out of Los Angeles, is the best Internet showcase around for electronic music. Dublab’s innovative approach to briadcasting results in an eclectic mix of unknown bedroom composers and established names in techno. The live stream (which requires the Real Audio player) is guaranteed to introduce you to tons of stuff you’ve never heard before, as well as playing your favorite underground electronic classics.

But the site’s real highlight is its extensive archive of DJ sets. Over Dublab’s brief history, the station has served as a platform for a variety of artists, such as techno producer John Tejada, eclectic electro-jazz master Q-Burn, and other prominent techno wizards. These DJ sets provide a glimpse into the styles and tastes of these artists, and you’ll probably get to hear some great obscure tracks in these mixes. (www.dublab.com)

Other Stations

In addition to the slew of stations broadcasting solely on the Web, many stations that have traditionally broadcast by traditional means are also taking to the Net, allowing Web users to listen to stations from all over the country. The wide variety makes skipping through the radio dial obsolete, as song-starving music fans are no longer limited to their hometown stations.

Among the many traditional radio stations broadcasting online are the modern rock station WBRU (95.5 in Providence, R.I.; www.wbru.com) and indie-rock station WOXY (97X in Oxford, OH; www.woxy.com), which bills itself as “the future of rock n’ roll.”

Archived article by Ed Howard